Tag Archives: curses

Mexican Curses and Eggs

The interlocutor (JG) has many relatives living in Mexico and is a first-generation Mexican American themself. The following describes one example of Mexican superstitions regarding witchcraft and curses, along with the use of eggs in magic.

DESCRIPTION: (told over the phone)
(JG):”One more–I’m so sorry! Okay, so I think like, 10 years ago? My uncles, they work in like, construction stuff, they were remodeling my grandma’s house and cleaning up her basement, uh… and as they were looking around, they found another little charm! But this one was directed at my grandfather, and it had a little coin which is a sign for a money curse. Someone cursed my grandfather, basically. And that curse, we believe, went down to my dad as well. I’m not sure if to my aunt. But-But my dad…something about male inheritance? I don’t know. So someone cursed my grandfather. Somehow that charm got into my grandma’s backyard, which is weird.

But basically, it was while we were living here [their current home], it was a few months ago. It was after we discovered…because all of this stuff, we were talking about a few months ago, like specifically my dad being cursed…I forgot… Oh! It was because my grandfather passed away. So we started talking about things relating to him and somehow the curse came up.

We realized there was a possibility that my dad could also be cursed. My dad, no, my mom did this thing with an egg. So eggs are like, symbolic of purity, I don’t know. Eggs can see the bad stuff. Eggs can tell the energy. So like, when I was younger I used to have a lot of nightmares, so my grandma blessed me with an egg and it cured my nightmares, that type of stuff. So my mom did this thing with an egg to my dad, just to see if he was cursed, to see if there was bad energy surrounding him because of what happened. So she did that.

She meant to put the egg under the bed and he was supposed to sleep over it and in the morning she’d crack the egg and the color of the yolk would say something. So in the morning, she cracked the egg and the yolk came out black. Like, blackish-reddish. Like the egg was completely dark. So that was added evidence for why my family thinks my dad is cursed.”

I definitely think that this specific curse falls under the category of homeopathic magic since the coin is representative of a money curse. I find it interesting how people turn to magic to gain some sense of power over others, putting their faith in something bad happening to their target even if the effect they want never comes. It’s difficult to wrap my head around feeling so powerless and desperate that one would need to turn to wish pain and misfortune onto others to feel better about their own circumstances.

I also liked JG’s explanation of the egg! It reminded me a lot of one of the discussions we had during the lecture, in which we talked about the meaning of eggs in many different cultural practices. In this case, JG’s explanation of the egg’s ability to detect dark energy fit perfectly under what we had discussed in class since eggs mean purity and life (among other things) across many different traditions.

Grogh – Armenian Pagan Spirit and Curse Word

Informant’s Background:

My informant, AD, is an undergraduate student at USC who grew up in Glendale, California. Her family immigrated to the United States from the capital of Armenia, Yerevan, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.


The informant is my girlfriend and we share an apartment together. I asked her if she could share some Armenian folklore with me, and this is one of the pieces that she provided.


AD: “There’s this thing in Armenian that it’s like a pretty common curse that people will say, like my mom says it a lot when she gets angry and stuff, uhm, or like… uhm like y’know something bad happens or whatever. It’s “grogh”, right? And there’s different ways to say it, there’s like “groghi tsotsu” or “groghu kez tani”. Uhm, so “grogh” means “writer”, so when you say that word you are refferring to an old pagan Armenian spirit, the Grogh, who was like a scribe that I think traditionally uh, had the names of people who would ever be born and who were going to die, like their lifespans in a book, so he was a symbol of death right? And he would take people when they died. He was basically an Armenian pagan form of the grim reaper. Uhm, so when people say “grogh” or “groghu kez tani”, that means “let the scribe take you” or “groghi tsotsu” that means “in the arms of the scribe”. So yeah.”

Informant’s Thoughts:

AD: “It’s strange. Like I guess, I dunno, it’s like a common word, it’s like the equivalent of being like “damn”, but it’s like so specific, and like it’s not like “grogh” is also not used in vernacular, it also just means “writer”, like it’s a common word, so it’s strange that it also is a curse.”


I think that this word “grogh” is very similar to the English “damn” in many ways. It’s used in pretty much the same contexts, with the use of the word singularly being often an expression of frustration, or with more words being added to transform it into an insult such as “groghu kez tani” meaning “let the scribe take you” being very similar to the English “damn you to hell”. I think that the etymology of the word itself, originating as the name of a spirit or deity in Armenian paganism and over time becoming a word that simply means “writer” makes sense when compared with other examples of words with similar etymological origins, such as “atlas”, which now just refers to a map but once referred to the titan that held up the sky. 

Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

Main piece: When in times of great stress or excitement, one will exclaim, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!”

Context: The informant is half Irish and half American. Her mother’s side of the family is originally from and still resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Her paternal extended family live in Sligo, Ireland. She grew up culturally Catholic, but she does not consider herself religious. Our conversation took place in February on my couch at home in Atlanta after she began recounting her recent trip to visit family in Ireland. The informant first heard this exclamation-prayer from her Catholic family in Ireland, specifically her great-aunt, as they constantly use it all day everyday. Because the informant is not religious, she sometimes grows uncomfortable with overuse of it in casual conversation as it is a constant reminder of how she’s quite different from the rest of her family in terms of spiritual and moral beliefs. The prayer has stuck with her because of how different it is from American exclamations; when one of her visiting extended family members comes to the U.S., “JMJ” highlights their “otherness.”

Personal thoughts: Upon first read, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” may not seem like a prayer at all, but rather an explanation. However, whenever someone is exclaiming these words, they are either a) asking for help in a time of stress, or b) giving thanks for something unexpected/exciting happening, which are really the two key functions of prayers. What’s nice about the JMJ prayer is that it’s more modern in the sense that its text is shorter in length, and therefore more palatable and digestible to the average, on-the-go American. Out with traditional words and rituals, and in with quick, trendy expressions that double as prayers! JMJ is also interesting because it offers a sly alternative to taking the Lord’s name directly in vain, which devout Christians tend to avoid on the basis of their faith. By exclaiming, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!”, you’re invoking powerful names in the bible, but you’re not directly saying “Oh, my God.” It’s a barely-there distinction, since Jesus is considered synonymous with the Lord in many ways, but the inclusion of Joseph and Mary somewhat soften the bite of taking Jesus’s name in vain. And by the time you reach the end of the phrase and have named all three, your local Catholic mother might’ve forgotten you even mentioned Jesus in the first place.

Glacier National Park Curse

My mother worked several summers in Glacier National Park at the Many Glacier Hotel. This is the curse of the National Park:

Mom: “Every summer an employee dies. The Blackfoot tradition considers the mountain peaks and valleys that make up Glacier Park to be a sacred space, and not in a good way. Supposedly one only ventures into Swiftcurrent or Two Medicine Valleys if they are brave enough to tempt fate – the deities in charge of these dramatic geographic formations do not welcome humans. Only a Blackfoot Chief or holy man dared venture in. This was the land of Grizzly Bears, Eagles, dramatic weather and ancient glaciers.”

Me: So what happened when you worked there?

Mom: “So, the story goes that every summer the powerful forces of the area would take the life of a seasonal Glacier Park employee as the price to be paid for the encroachment of tourism. In 1967 there was the famous “Night of the Grizzly” where multiple young women were mauled to death by bears in more than one campground in the park. That was before I worked there. Later, in the summers of 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1976 there were employees who met their deaths respectively, as follows: 22 year old bellman had a heart attack and died while attending a Thursday night bonfire kegger, 21 year old hotel groundskeeper fell off a cliff and died while hiking, 86 year old gift shop clerk drove off a cliff and died; and a 19 year old kitchen worker slipped while taking photographs of a waterfall and fell only 10 feet but hit his head and died.

Me: But it didn’t get you.

Mom: “I was careful every time I hiked in the park. I’d wear a bear-bell and always go with other people, and thankfully, the curse passed over me.”


This curse is interesting. It makes sense that people would die in a place like Glacier National Park, simply because the great outdoors are a force not to be reckoned with. The consistency of the curse is a little unnerving– that every summer one employee would lose his or her life– not simply a reckless hiker. I do wonder if having a certain reverance for the curse, like the interviewee suggested, meant that she was less at-risk of dying. This could be correlation, in that people who are afraid of the curse take more precaution to stay safe, or it could be causation, in that the curse “sees” that you are afraid and therefore avoids you.

“Suck eggs on them”

My informant is my mother, who has heard my father spout says and folk speech all their married life. I’ve grown up hearing them myself. My father is prone to using such phrases in everyday conversations. Here is an example.

“Well your father says suck eggs all the time. I don’t know what it means or where he got it from. It means buzz off in a not so nice way. Or “suck eggs on them” like they don’t matter or screw them. If you are complaining about something someone did, he’ll say “well suck eggs on them”.


This is an example of a folk speech, a folk saying with a connotative meaning. It comes from the idea that one looks very silly sucking on an egg and therefore saying one should “suck eggs” is a kind of a curse, like screw them. It means that the person who is complaining is the “good” party while the person being told to suck eggs is the “bad”. It was originally an English saying, meaning something similar. It is used as a derogatory term, a curse, but usually not in the presence of the person the curse is directed towards. It is usually between a person telling another of something another did and that second person agreeing with the first on the irritating qualities or action of that person.